By every measurement category used to calculate market size, the Northern Virginia region is the largest data center market in the U.S. and will continue to maintain its No. 1 status in the foreseeable future for many reasons. The region comprises every class of mission critical facilities: hyperscale enterprise data centers owned by companies such as Google and Facebook; multitenant wholesale data center campuses operated by Digital Realty and Dupont Fabros; and large colocation providers such as CyrusOne. All of these data facilities support thousands of technology companies and governmental groups that found this region to be optimal during the data center site selection process for their IT needs.
The Northern Virginia (NOVA) region had a head start as a dominant market in the early 1990’s not only as a nexus of Internet and fiber convergence but also as federal government agencies sought to locate their raised-floor environments near to their offices. As estimated by the Loudoun County economic development officials, up to 70 percent of the global Internet traffic passes through Loudoun County daily. This momentum has accelerated over the past five years with the surge in cloud service providers such as Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft concentrated in the region.
The region — Virginia’s Loudoun County and Prince William County, suburban Washington D.C. and nearby Maryland along the Beltway — is home to nearly 4.6 million square feet of commissioned colocation and powered shell space, representing 616 megawatts (MW) of commissioned power, according to dataCenterHawk. The largest concentration of such enterprise class facilities is in the city of Ashburn, often referred to as “Data Center Alley.”
Northern Virginia, besides cloud and connectivity advantages, also enjoys minimal risk factors, somewhat reasonable construction costs, and favorable state economic incentives. The overall infrastructure in place, including readily available power, provides a very favorable advantage for data center operators.
Growth of cloud computing will be contributor to the region
To say that “the cloud starts here” in Northern Virginia does not seem to be out of the realm of possibility. Simply defined as those data center campuses where massive amounts of computing power are dedicated in huge hyperscale raised-floor environments, these Internet hubs are a critical component of the cloud. The NOVA region has four of the top 10 cloud campuses in the U.S., according to Data Center Frontier. No other market has more than one. (It may surprise many that Silicon Valley does not have any on the Top 10.) The four noted campuses are:
Northern Virginia has several competitors in the market
Just about every major competitor in the wholesale colocation and turnkey data center sectors has a presence in the market, and while Digital Realty, Equinix and Dupont Fabros have already been mentioned, here are a few other notable players:
The Northern Virginia data center market is expected to continue its growth curve for at least the next three years. Over 120 MWs of new tenant demand are expected this year, which translates in the real estate world to over 1 million square feet. With its overall reliability, infrastructure and minimal risk profile, the region provides the critical mass to sustain its lead over every other data center market, and it continues to filter to the top of the data center site selection process.